Look, Ontario: free gift cards—pay no attention to those hydro bills

Robyn Urback: Look, Ontario — free gift cards! Pay no attention to that ballooning hydro bill

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne hands out food baskets and gift certificates to Loblaws Supermarkets in Scarborough, Ontario, December 30, 2013.
Tyler Anderson/National PostOntario Premier Kathleen Wynne hands out food baskets and gift certificates to Loblaws Supermarkets in Scarborough, Ontario, December 30, 2013.

The Ontario Liberal government is like that nettlesome semi-estranged relative who is never there when you want them, and always there when you don’t. The Liberals have mastered the dodge and deflect when it comes to disasters of their own making, while at the same time making themselves readily available with a basket of root vegetables and (a TV camera) when the mess is one they didn’t actually cause. Funny, that.
Take the province’s energy plan — a disaster entirely of Liberal making — which has generally been treated with a gap-jawed shrug and a promise to do better next time. Former Premier Dalton McGuinty’s prized Green Energy Act is now in tatters and largely forsaken by his successors in Kathleen Wynne’s government. The Liberals wasted up to $1.1-billion of taxpayer dollars on the cancellation of two Ontario gas plants; a move that will add to Ontarians’ energy bills, which are set to rise by 42% over the next five years. Waste, corruption and ineptitude. Oops. Ah, well — can we talk about banning tanning beds again?

Ontario handing out $100 gift cards for Toronto families to replace food ruined during the ice storm

Power wasn’t the only thing lost in the ice storm. After days without electricity, Toronto families faced freezers of spoiled meat and expensive bills to replace ruined food.
Now, the province is giving out $200,000 worth of gift cards to help families re-stock household fridges in the city.
Ontario Premiere Kathleen Wynne announced Monday that the government partnered with Loblaw, Shoppers Drug Mart, Sobeys and Metro to raise the funds — $25,000 from each of the corporations and $100,000 from the province.
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Compare that to the Liberals’ response to a disaster not of their making: the recent ice storm that knocked out power for days in much of Toronto and neighbouring communities. While antagonists might claim  the crisis could have been avoided if Ontario had explored burying powering lines instead of wasting money on futile wind energy systems, most of us can agree that Wynne’s people can’t be blamed for the weather. Storms happen. Sometimes, storms cause power outages. Toronto Hydro and Hydro One employees worked tirelessly over the holidays to get electricity back to its customers, most of whom are now back online. It’s unfortunate, but it’s life.
Nonetheless, Ontario’s government decided it would — no, it must — help out families who lost money in food that went bad in their powerless fridges and freezers during the storm. “We know there’s a need and that’s why we’re asking people to help,” Wynne said at a joint press conference with grocery retailers Loblaw, Sobey’s, Metro and Shopper’s Drug Mart, each of which donated $25,000 in gift cards to help families restock. The government pledged to match the donations, meaning $200,000 in gift cards was made available at the time of the announcement (that figure was later quadrupled to meet demand). “It will not meet the entire need,” Wynne said, “but we will do our best.”

Read the full article here.

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